What to Look for Before Buying a Kitten!
If you are thinking about getting a kitten there are a few pointers I can give you as to what to look for.
Be aware that pet shops are a great place for the spread of germs and disease and considering that kittens in pet shops are NOT fully vaccinated this can be risky, especially when they mix litters of kittens together. You can usually find the same breed on the internet or from a breeder at a cheaper price and in the case of Domestic Short Hair (DSH) or moggy kittens they will usually be free unless microchipped or vaccinated.
Before purchasing a kitten or even choosing one there are a few things to look out for. If the kitten hisses or backs up when you approach it this means that the kitten has not been handled very much and chances are was not raised indoors. First signs to steer clear of that kitten.
When buying a kitten from either a breeder or a Pet Shop ensure that they offer some kind of health guarantee. Even if it is only for a couple of days so that you have a chance to get the kitten checked out by a qualified vet and return the kitten if the vet thinks it is not healthy.
If you are buying from a breeder always ask to see where the kittens are kept. If they are hesitant to show you it is probably because the facilities are dirty and often small. If the cages are outside be wary! How much attention have these kittens had? Are they familiar with the typical noises of a home such as the telephone, T.V, doorbell, vacuum cleaner etc. Is the breeder aware of health problems if they are kept outside/down the back of the property?
Check the eyes and nose. If there is any yellow discharge from the eyes and/or if the nose is running or if the kitten is constantly sneezing, chances are that kitten has Cat Flu. You don't want to buy a sick cat so make sure the kitten has been treated and is healthy before purchase.
Look in the ears any black or dark brown wax may indicate ear mites. A responsible pet shop or breeder would have dealt with this before showing a prospective buyer.
Check the litter tray - A responsible breeder would make sure it was clean - (a sign that the kittens are well cared for). If there are signs of fresh faeces is it solid? Also check the kittens bottom. Is it clean? Or are there signs of diarrhoea? If so it may be worth coming back at a later stage and looking at the kitten/s when this has been treated. Or alternatively look elsewhere.
Finally look at the kittens body. Check for fleas or any wounds. (Small wounds may be found on the neck of young kittens from the mother carrying her young, that is usually fine and no need for concern). If you do find fleas or suspicious wounds or lumps (possibly hernia if on stomach) I again would recommend you look elsewhere.
You don't have to buy from the first breeder you talk to or see. You are likely to have a kitten for 14+ years so....Take your time, look around! You can always go back to that breeder if you think they were the best breeder with the healthiest animals. If you have to wait a few months well so be it. What is a few months in the scheme of things? A good breeder will give you lots of information to take home with you such as care sheets, diet recommendations and vet information, informing you when your kitten is due for its next vaccination etc. I would also expect a good breeder would ask you to give them a call should you have any problems or questions even when your cat is an adult.
A sign of a good breeder is one who uses top quality food to feed both the adults and kittens. Where possible the kittens should be raised on meat suitable for human consumption and a vet recommended brand of biscuit as the base diet. If the breeder is prepared to spend money on good quality food this is a good sign that the kitten is looked after in all areas of health and grooming.
People often feel that the higher quality pet foods are too expensive but due to the top quality ingredients used in these brands you will find that your cat will actually eat less of these foods than regular supermarket varieties often resulting in a similar cost if not a small saving. This is because a good quality of food will fill them up quicker and give them the nutrience and all the dietary requirements they need. You should also find that your cat excretes less with less odour. It will also give your cat a shinier healthier coat, help keep the teeth clean and give your cat fresher breath. These brands of food are also made to suit your ageing cat. Where possible you cat should be fed fresh meat (such as BBQ Chicken, minced lamb, diced beef, chicken necks and wings, brisket bones etc) throughout out their entire life. Meats suitable for human consumption are ideal! They don't have the preservatives that the pet food meats have. These preservatives will have detrimental effects if used regularly.
In the case of dry food - Your kitten should be on kitten food until it is one year old. It should then be weaned onto an adult food which it will remain on until it is 7 years old and should then be put onto a senior diet. Adult cats need much less and possibly even no dry food at all if they are fed on a good variety of meats suitable for human consumption/preservative free and have a healthy diet in general
Some of the dry food brands also attend to the needs of cats with specific health problems such as hairballs, dental care, sensitive stomaches and sensitive skin etc. There are also breed specific food on the market for dogs and cats. A good choice for an adult Burmese is Royal Cannin - Siamese. (The Dietary need of a Siamese is the same as a Burmese). Other brands of dry food that you may like to use are Eagle Pack, Science Diet, Eukanuba, Iams and Advance. Varying the brands is important.
Enjoy your new healthy kitten!
Suchi is a registered breeder with the New South Wales Cat Fanciers' Association Incorporated. Lic No 125232.
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